Goals from Robert Lopez Mendy and Jordan Mintah weren’t enough to prevent Ceres Negros from claiming a 3-2 victory at the University of Makati Stadium on Saturday night. The visitors, fresh from claiming the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Title three days ago, relied on goals from Omid Nazari, Arnie Pasinabo, and Bienvenido Marañon.
“It was a tough game. I think the Kaya players really worked hard from the start to the end. It was a pretty even game. I think we were able to have more possession and more chances than them. The only difference was, the few chances that they had, they converted them,” said Makati head coach Noel Marcaida. “If we scored that chance before the end of the half. It would have been a different story.”
Jordan Mintah’s inability to connect to a delightful cross from Jovin Bedic just four minutes in the match, was one of a few missed chances throughout the match. Just before half-time it was Lopez Mendy who missed from up close. Free from his marker on a breakaway, the striker fired a left-footed strike wide of the goal. Had he scored, it would have canceled out Nazari’s opener in the 19th minute — a low drive from a free kick just outside the box.
Things turned worse for the home side after the break, with Pasinabo curling a beauty from the corner of Kaya’s box. Makati responded quickly, though, with Lopez Mendy capitalizing on a sleeping Ceres defense. From a set piece, Negros were able to clear only as far as Omura, who sent a high ball back into the box. Robert reacted first and did well to shield his defender before smashing in from close range.
The fightback was handed a serious blow 11 minutes later, however, with Marañon somehow getting in front of three defenders to slide in a low cross. Roland Muller then pulled out a great save to restore the two-goal cushion, touching an attempt from Masanari over the bar, which looked destined for the top corner.
In virtually the last kick of the game, Jordan Mintah struck from close range to keep the score close.
“I think we deserved it. We were better, and tried to play football all the time,” said Ceres Negros head coach Risto Vidakovic, before ripping into the officials presiding over the game. “The first foul should’ve been a red card, a clear red card. I don’t know what happened. I don’t like to talk about them, but they are bad for football. If they allow things like they did today, I don’t know what will happen. The league don’t deserve these referees, the players don’t deserve these referees. If nobody protects the players, something very serious could happen.”
The result meant Kaya have suffered two-straight defeats after going through July unbeaten. But while the start of August has been far from ideal for Makati, coach Noel believes the panic button is still far off.
“We’re not worried. As long as we play good football in every game, and win the remaining games that we have, we still have a good chance,” he said. “I think for us to have a good month, we need to win the remaining two games. After that, we have 22 days off. So I think for us to deserve that break, we need to win those remaining two games.”
Kaya Makati returns to action on Wednesday, 4pm, against JPV Marikina.